“Whimsical Little Gymnasts: Japanese Birds Frolicking on Tree Branches Like Snow Fairies”

Japanese little birds performing playful gymnastics on tree branches are like sweet snow fairies.

People from different places come to witness the beautiful and adorable Japanese birds that resemble tiny snowballs. The photos of these lovely creatures are so mesmerizing that they seem unreal. A skilled photographer even captured these little birds “exercising” by using fragile tree branches as their equipment. Known as “snow fairies” in Japan, these birds are called Shima-enaga, which means “long-tailed island bird.” They belong to a subspecies of long-tailed tit and can be seen in the forests of Hokkaido, the second-largest island in Japan.

Hiroki Takahashi, a resident of Sapporo who hails from an island, has been fascinated by snow faeries for a long time. He recently spent a month exploring the forest in search of these elusive creatures. During his quest, Hiroki managed to capture a stunning series of photographs of a small bird “exercising” in December 2022. When asked about his fortune, Hiroki shared with The Epoch Times that the long-tailed tit is incredibly quick and challenging to capture on film. However, its cute, egg-shaped face is so endearing that Hiroki walked over 20,000 steps every day to get the perfect shot.

According to Hiroki, taking a perfect shot of small birds like the long-tailed tit requires adopting different postures as they tend to move around in various directions and don’t stay still for long. To capture the cuteness of snow fairies’ acrobatics, Hiroki used his Canon EOS R5 camera and 300mm lens to snap close-up photos of them bouncing on branches, hanging upside-down, diving into the air, and even doing pull-ups on thick twigs.

The shima-enaga is a small bird that weighs about 8 grams and measures around 13 to 15 centimeters in adulthood. They have a long tail and are omnivorous, feeding primarily on insects and other invertebrates. These birds are common on the island all year round, but they become particularly active in preparation for the extreme cold of winter, fluffing their feathers. Unlike long-tailed tits found on the mainland, adult shima-enaga lose their black “eyebrows,” revealing their white faces with small beaks that resemble cotton balls. Another unique characteristic of these fluffy birds is that if they are unable to mate successfully in the spring, individual birds band together to help raise young birds in a flock of 20-30. Shima-enaga are a beloved symbol of Hokkaido island and can often be found on trinkets and handcrafted goods.

Starting off as a landscape and portrait photographer, his interest in single-lens reflex cameras grew when he became a father. In the beginning of 2022, he began exploring nature on his walks, and it was then that he clicked his first pictures of Ezo flying squirrels. This sparked a newfound passion for capturing animals through his lens. Recently, Hiroki received overwhelming positive feedback on his Instagram post featuring snow fairies, which left him pleasantly surprised.

According to his statement to The Epoch Times, it brought joy to him. He added that Hokkaido may be a tiny island compared to the world, but during winter, the animals there grow exceptionally fluffy fur to protect themselves from the cold. It would make him happy if such cuteness could be spread all over the globe.

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